Packers complicit in Colin Kaepernick’s banishment

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 01: Colin Kaepernick
SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 01: Colin Kaepernick /

It is more or less safe to say Colin Kaepernick, the former NFC champion, has played his last down in the NFL. Thirty-one owners and the Green Bay Packers have cowered away from bringing the outspoken signal caller on board.

Despite playing Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, and the rest of the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense, Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the tradition-bound 49ers drove nearly the length of the field and came within five yards of a potentially Super Bowl-winning touchdown.

Less than two minutes later, the confetti had fallen and Kaepernick’s career had finally taken off. Despite leaving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans as a Super Bowl loser, Kaepernick had been given the keys to the car for a franchise that had done the same for Joe Montana and Steve Young.

How things have changed. Kaepernick is now stuck in a heated legal battle with the NFL after he filed a grievance suit. Politics aside, the former Nevada standout and $100 million quarterback has been shunned from the NFL and the Packers are among the reasons why.

Kaepernick grew up in Milwaukee after being adopted by a couple that had lost two sons to heart defects. He eventually became a three-sport star in high school excelling in football, baseball, and basketball while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Despite mostly receiving interest as a pitcher in college, Kaepernick received a hefty scholarship to quarterback the Nevada Wolf Pack.

A few short years later, Kaepernick was a second-round draft pick of the San Fransisco 49ers and matured into a Super Bowl caliber signal caller. His career declined significantly after a disappointing couple of seasons and eventually ended abruptly after he began sitting on the bench during the national anthem.

Kaepernick was promptly questioned about his actions and responded firmly: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

What has been forgotten throughout the entire timeline of this story is the advice Kaepernick received from Nate Boyer, a former player and veteran of the army. Boyer recommended that Kaepernick kneel rather than sit out of respect for the military.

Never mind that the Baltimore Ravens decided to bring in Robert Griffin III during free agency, a quarterback who has been out of football for over a year and looked like a kid on a playground trying to imitate Kaepernick’s running ability during his time with the Redskins and Browns. Never mind that the Seattle Seahawks postponed a scheduled tryout with Kaepernick this past week after he declined to stop kneeling in the future.

Never mind that the Houston Texans ignored the former starter when they lost two quarterbacks to injury last season. The Packers had conveniently avoided speculation about signing Kaepernick due to the quarterbacks the team already had on the roster. The familiar refrain was, “They’ve got Aaron Rodgers, and a backup quarterback who they’ve spent three years grooming; why would they invest in such a distraction?”

But after Week 6 of this past season, the Packers couldn’t avoid the curiosity from fans any longer. The teams’ campaign effectively ended after Anthony Barr drove Rodgers’ vulnerable throwing shoulder into the turf and snapped his collarbone. Brett Hundley stepped in and didn’t exactly knock anybody’s socks off. The Packers had every opportunity to bring Kaepernick in on a minimum-salary deal and provide an insurance policy in the event Hundley stunk it up on the field.

Perhaps the only team Kaepernick could revive his career with, is the one he grew up a die-hard fan of, with an all-time great there to mentor him, near his hometown, without an obnoxious owner calling all the shots. Mike McCarthy infamously snapped at a reporter who asked if the team would consider adding a free agent quarterback, exclaiming, “Our quarterback room is right where it needs to be”.

Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy quickly contradicted McCarthy’s defiance, when they attempted to sign journeyman Brian Hoyer after he was released by the 49ers. Hoyer chose to sign with the Patriots. The interest in Hoyer confirmed that the team felt they had to add a quarterback, but had no intention of adding one who in his prime was a better quarterback than at least 10 quarterbacks currently starting in the NFL.

In a league that has allowed so many convicted felons to sign up for seven-figure salaries and rejuvenate their career, Kaepernick’s protest of the anthem made the Packers turn away. This is the same team that found roster spots for Jarrett Bush, Johnny Jolly, Ahmad Brooks, Letroy Guion, Erik Walden, Brandon Underwood, and many others.

This is the same NFL that found a starting defensive end spot for Greg Hardy, who notably beat his wife to the ground and strangled her before threatening to kill her. This is the same NFL that drafted Joe Mixon, who broke four bones in a woman’s face, in the second round.

The Packers weren’t out of opportunities to bring Kaepernick aboard though.

Finally, only hours after free agency began around a month ago, the Packers executed a trade with the Cleveland Browns that netted them quarterback DeShone Kizer. The final nail in the coffin for Kaepernick may have been the Seahawks’ inability to stomach an outspoken individual merely sitting on the bench with a clipboard while Russell Wilson leads them to the playoffs, but the trade for Kizer particularly stuck out.

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For one thing, the Packers traded away their top cornerback from last year, Damarious Randall, in the deal. While Randall was among the worst draft picks in team history, and it was smart to let him go in any fashion, he was on top of the depth chart and still on a cheap rookie contract that cost the team essentially pennies. The Packers showed interest in drafting Kizer the year before out of Notre Dame, but the Browns scooped him up in the second round.

All in all, the trade was a net positive for the Packers. They acquired a quarterback they clearly had a heightened level of interest in, dumped one of the league’s worst defensive backs and swapped picks with the Browns in rounds four and five of this year’s draft. But what can’t be overlooked was that Kizer was the starting quarterback for a team that just went 0-16 and threw just 11 touchdowns compared to a Brett Favre-esque 22 interceptions.

Kaepernick meanwhile, is still unsigned despite his resume as a quarterback and what he has done since being pushed out the NFL door. Kaepernick pledged to donate a million dollars to “organizations working in oppressed communities.” He donated the first $100,000 to 10 various charities in separate $10,000 payments. This of course squashes any argument that Kaepernick wasn’t actively trying to solve any problems and was lazily kneeling for the “Star Spangled Banner”.

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When training camp gets underway in August, the Packers’ quarterback room will feature Rodgers, Kizer and Hundley.

Kaepernick will be watching from a couch while the Packers move forward with two underachieving quarterbacks that will be backing up a starter in his mid-30s fresh off of his second broken collarbone. The referees of the NFL will still be there to maintain order during a Packers’ game that features four players who have been arrested at one time or another in their career, but it is clear that the Packers need their own personal set of ethical whistleblowers.